West Kendall soon may become better known as “The West End.”
Designed to create a “social identity” for Miami-Dade’s westernmost District 11, an ambitious cultural and arts program was unveiled on Feb. 12 by Commissioner Juan C. Zapata under that geographic title.
Since taking office in November 2012, Zapata has been intent on developing a “destination point” focus for the area between Florida’s Turnpike and Krome Avenue, initiating a series of county projects that include potential incorporation for an estimated 200,000 residents.
During the past two months, Zapata and his office aides have developed a new “West End Living” mobile app for smart phone users and an online bi-weekly “West End Newsletter” to keep residents up-to-date on community-wide events, meetings and district projects.
His latest effort: a newly organized West End Cultural Activities Committee that held its first meeting in mid-February to help plan and guide a series of social programs and projects, among them:
• A “West End” Community Art Festival, highlighting local artists on the Town Center property, tentatively scheduled for April.
• An “Easter Event” at Tamiami Lakes Park in with egg toss and bunny hop activities for youngsters.
• Stylish artwork images designed by Michelle Weinberg to cover 25 eyesore utility boxes throughout West Kendall.
• A family-styled logo contributed by Stephen Gamson as a visual graphic representing “The West End,” including a cartoonish outline of a dog to be named in a community-wide contest as a symbol of “West End” family life.
• Use of social media apps for updates and responses that now include Facebook (Commissioner Juan C. Zapata – District 11); Instagram (@WestEndLiving&@Team Zapata) and Twitter (Juan C. Zapata).
“We started this committee because we want to create a culturally driven social identity for The West End,” said District 11 aide Stephanie Figueroa who conducted the initial meeting with aide Astrid Salcedo.
“More often than not, people go downtown and other such places to experience local art,” she continued, echoing the commissioner’s own words. “We want to give our families and our residents that experience here in The West End.”
Committee members added dozens of ideas to the “West End” list that included monthly art exhibits, festival crafts and handwork demonstrations, high school and folkloric musical group performances, and efforts to involve local businesses in event sponsorships.
In addition to the cultural program, Zapata recently bulk-mailed “The West End Midterm Scorecard” to residents, detailing park and health projects during the first two years of his term in office, including 52 community events and infrastructure improvements.
The report concluded with a future agenda to include a strategic plan with FIU for “West End” enhancement, already fueled by his efforts to locate an MSL soccer franchise temporarily at the university’s stadium.
Other potential goals: a planning process to improve Kendall Drive through the Kendall Corridor study; renaming Kendall-Tamiami as Miami Executive Airport, and creating a “Greenspace Master Plan” for bicycle connectivity.